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Nutrition: Supporting post-viral recovery – Nutrition consultancy for healthy body and mind
post viral fatigue

Supporting Post-Viral Recovery

A growing number of people are reporting ongoing symptoms after the acute phase of Covid-19. Post-viral recovery for many seems slow and ongoing. The main symptom being reported is debilitating fatigue; in some instance affecting the ability to work. Other post-viral symptoms include headaches, continued loss of smell, coughs, joint and muscle pain and issues with cognition or ‘fuzzy’ thinking. This is similar to the post-viral symptoms we have seen in some after Epstein-Barr virus otherwise known as glandular fever.

Post viral nutritional support involves helping the body to counteract the after-effects of the viral-immune response. It is likely that higher levels of inflammation and an over reaction by the immune system could lead to discomfort, fatigue and other symptoms.

During a viral attack the immune system releases chemicals.This immune response causes many of the symptoms we associate with viruses – fatigue, aches and pains and generally feeling unwell. Symptoms that persist in the longer term are a sign that the usual immune response has not returned to normal. Or it indicates that your body needs support with ‘cleaning up’ the damage caused.

Mounting an immune response is a nutrient-dependant process. Reserves of key minerals and vitamins are used in the process which can leave us compromised in the final recovery phase. The mitochondria in our cells produce energy and often viruses target these, compromising energy production and causing fatigue. Also, the side effect of fighting a virus is some degree of damage to the cells. This would also affect the ability to produce energy. This damage is known as oxidative stress and we need antioxidants from colourful vegetables, herbs and spices to deal with this. Alpha lipoid acid and co-enzyme Q10 are particularly useful for supporting energy production. Mitochondrial support is vital if fatigue is your main concern. An Organic Acid Test can identify if you have a need for specific nutrients associated with mitochondrial function.

Graded exercise is sometimes recommended for post-viral fatigue but this may not be helpful. Restorative exercise such as walking or yoga may be beneficial. Good quality sleep and adequate hydration is also needed to support recovery.

One of the key symptoms of Covid is loss of sense of smell and taste. This may be associated with inflammation of the sinuses. Measures to reduce this could be helpful. Another factor to consider is zinc status. One of the enzymes which is critical to maintain taste and smell function is a zinc dependent metalloenzyme called carbonic anhydrase (CA) VI. If zinc is not present in the body in adequate amounts and zinc deficiency occurs this enzyme does not function correctly and/or is not made in adequate amounts. We know that zinc is also needed to inhibit viruses. You can read here about common signs and symptoms of zinc deficiency.

For people who have lost their sense of smell, which in turn affects their taste, food can lose it’s appeal. Try to focus on the visual aspects of food by eating colourful vegetables. This will help you to get a good level of antioxidants to lower inflammation. You could also add strong flavours like ginger or lemon to your meals as these may provide a better sensory experience. We know that vitamin A is important for the health of mucous membranes as well as being a potent anti-viral support. Vitamin A also supports lung function.

We know that low levels of vitamin D make people more susceptible to viruses and this can also lead to inflammatory issues post-covid. Virus exposure can also raise vitamin D requirements. With this in mind it is worth getting your levels checked. You can do this through your GP or online. To ensure levels are optimal and remain so for a few months you would need a level above 80 n/mols. This is double the levels considered satisfactory by many GP’s so do check the figures on your test results. You can order a reasonably priced vitamin D bloodspot test from this lab in Birmingham.

A key vitamin for post-viral recovery is vitamin C. It helps lower inflammation, deal with oxidative stress and is anti-viral. Many of you may already be using this.In clients with post-viral recovery issues we would tend to use vitamin C in higher amounts for a therapeutic effect. The recommended daily amount (RDA) of vitamin C is probably not sufficient for full recovery. The powder form is generally best for therapeutic doses and a buffered form may be needed. Speak to your practitioner to find out if this approach would work for you.

We devise bespoke nutritional programmes to help individuals overcome their health issues. Get in touch to find out how we can help you.

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Author: Sarah Hanratty

Sarah is a specialist practitioner at the Brain Food Clinic. She has a degree in Nutritional Medicine and is a certified Gut and Psychology Syndrome Practitioner. Sarah helps people to overcome physical and mental health issues using bespoke nutritional protocols.

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